Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Charity Christmas Collection Stolen in Camberley Church Break-in

Very sad to report that the collections taken during the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services have been stolen from St Paul’s Church,  in a Boxing Day raid. The money collected was intended for charities including the Acorn Healing Centre in Bordon, Christian Aid and the church in the Middle East, which is suffering increased levels of persecution.

Vicar, Reverend Mark Chester said,  “St Paul’s is about building better relationships. One of the ways we do this is by giving local people the opportunity to be generous to local charities and those who are suffering in some way at Christmas. It is sad that two or three individuals have chosen to hurt many by stealing money that would have made a real difference. I pray that the thieves will realise the damage they have done to themselves and others, and choose a lifestyle that brings healing, rather than hurt”.

If you have any information about the incident which may assist police, please call Surrey Police on 101.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Frontline Celebrate a Christmas Breakthrough

Most welfare benefits are being cut. While approving of the governments aim to get those who can work back to work, Frontline have seen many worrying results nationally. Parents having to “top up” housing benefit to pay their rent, some benefits not being increased along with inflation and many people losing long-term benefits, has resulted in many struggling to buy food, gas & electricity and other basics. Thankfully churches and charities running food banks, clothing stores and restored furniture helps.  There are many other cuts on the way.  Many people are struggling to live, let alone pay debts.

Camberley FrontlineIn early November Frontline were approached by a single mum who’s disabled living allowance for her seriously disabled daughter, had been withdrawn.  Two Frontline advisers helped her to appeal against this decision and just before Christmas day, they heard that the appeal had been successful.

This has increased the client's income by some £250 a month.  Not a lot by some peoples standards, but all the difference in the world to this single Mum.  Super news just before Christmas.

Along with the financial worries, struggling with debt often leads to depression, anxiety and stress and can cause tension or arguments between you and your loved ones. Frontline provide free debt and benefit advice in Camberley. If you need help please contact Frontline.

Phone: 07880 711730 (24 hour message line)       

Email: camberley@FrontlineDebtAdvice.org.uk

Blessing for Besom at Christmas

I wonder if you were brave enough to tackle the shops this year or if you entered a state of panic, with only a few days left to get it all done. The young people at St Paul’s have not only braved the shops for their own shopping, but this year they’ve taken their shopping one step further.

Hattie Lloyd with her collection for the BesomHattie Lloyd with her collection for the Besom

Our older youth groups have teamed up with Besom this year to bring some Christmas joy to the teenagers in Camberley who might not be expecting any present this year, by putting together packs of presents for them. Hattie Lloyd, who championed the idea, says “Everyone expects to get presents nowadays at Christmas but not everyone can. You hear about things like Operation Christmas Child that go to other countries but there are a lot of people who have needs right here in this community.”

In October, Diane Marlow spoke in our Harvest service about the work Besom is doing in Camberley. ”When Diane came and spoke to us in a service about producing packs for families in the Camberley area, I thought that there might be teenagers not just adults affected,” says Hattie. Hattie brought the idea of making present packs for the teenagers who Besom worked with to Evening Cell (a youth group at St Paul’s), and from there, the project was born

Hattie says, ”Some people donated items, some people put together packs”. On top of this Hattie got her school on board with the project. “My school was doing a charity choral concert and I nominated the Besom charity as the organisation we were going to give the money to and it was chosen, so we were able to supplement the packs with a further donation!”

Christmas Packs

With the items contributed and the money raised, we were able to put together five present packs – one for each of the young people Besom told us about. The packs looked great and were filled with a huge variety of presents - from mugs, to bath stuff, shop vouchers and even juggling balls!

Reflecting on the experience, Hattie says that it has been “Great seeing the reception when we spoke to people about it, they seemed excited which was nice to see. And seeing the finished packs was really cool as well.”

Sarah Percival, our Youth Director, reflects ”It’s been brilliant to see the creativity and initiative that’s come from the young people for this. We really hope those packs put a smile on some young people’s faces this Christmas. I can’t wait to see what the St Paul’s Young people come up with next!”

DSC06413

Sunday, 18 December 2011

St Paul’s Throws a Snow Ball!

If you are dreaming of a white Christmas, dream no more. As long as you are aged 5-11 years you are invited to St Paul’s first snow ball and yes, there really will be snow. Real snow! Imagine dressing up in your best clothes and dancing shoes, meeting new friends and playing splat the snowball (among other Christmassy party games). Imagine refreshments and goodie bags to take home, a disco and did I already say  lots of snow?!

St Pauls Snow BallSarah Hounslow, Children’s worker for St Paul’s and Snow Ball organiser says: “The Snow Ball is a winter wonderland party to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We’ll have lots of fun with music, snow and party bags to go home with.”

The ball will be held at St Paul’s, Crawley Ridge, Camberley Surrey GU15 2AD on Thursday 22 December from 3pm until 5pm.

But you’d better get your skates on as tickets are selling fast. Tickets are 1.50 and available from Sarah on 07789 995274.

Christmas Services Expose

St Paul's at Christmas We’re heading for Christmas at a phenomenal speed, and before you know it, we’ll have sung carols, been to the Christingle service with the children, and had a great big celebration on Christmas day.

If you don’t usually attend St Paul’s, you might like to know more about how we do Christmas here, and what to expect. We’re a welcoming church, on Crawley Ridge in Camberley, and we’ve done all we can to make your visit a special time. Comfy seats, red carpet, refreshments, and the Christmas story.

Here’s a roundup of what to expect at each of our Christmas services.

Sunday 18 December

6.00pm Carols by Candlelight

Carols by CandlelightA service based around carols and bible readings of the birth of Jesus Christ.  In a beautiful candle lit church, the retelling of the Christmas story through bible reading, carols and music of a variety of styles blends both the traditional and the modern.  This is a time for thought and reflection on the richness of what we experience. Stay on afterwards for mulled wine and  light refreshments. This service is intended more for adults and older children. 

 

Christmas Eve

3.00pm  & 5.00pm Christingles (great for children)

Christingles at St Paul'sChristmas eve is a special time, especially for the younger members of the family who can barely contain their excitement.  The early evening Christmas Eve Christingle Service helps them remember the original cause for their excitement.  There will be a tableau of the crib scene, child friendly carols, candle lit christingles in a darkened church and a small farewell gift.  All ages are welcome. Come early to get a seat as this service is always very popular. 

Christmas Day Family Celebration

9.30am  and 11.15am  Family Celebration  (great for children)

Christmas Day Celebration It’s Christmas morning!  A time of great excitement for many.  All the preparations are complete, the turkey is cooking and the table is laid.  Now it is time to come along to St Paul’s at 9.30 or 11.15 a.m. to join in a joyous celebration of the real meaning of Christmas.  There will be something for everyone, whatever age you are.  We will be singing traditional Christmas carols, finding out about what weird and wacky gifts people have already given and received, and also celebrating the birth of the greatest gift of all – Jesus Christ.  The theme of our celebration is “Expect the Unexpected!” 

We look forwards to welcoming you to join in our festive fun at St Paul’s, Crawley Ridge, Camberley, Surrey GU15 2AD. Directions on our website.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas Brass at St Paul’s, Camberley

Some extremely talented musicians, the Sandhurst Band,  are performing  a free Christmas family concert at St Paul’s. I had a wonderful chat with Musical Director, Ian McElligott about the concert, and he spilled the beans.

Sandhurst Band Christmas Brass at St Pauls Camberley The award winning Sandhurst Band was founded in 1908. The 30 musicians are from all walks of life, and come together because of their passion for music.  They’ve crafted a varied Christmas family programme for us, with music ranging from the show Mama Mia, to light jazz, with a few soloists thrown in for good measure.

The real highlight has to be the world premier of A Celt in Jerusalem, composed especially for St Paul's by Ian McElligott.  The suite of 6 movements has an emotional centrepiece called  Procession to Calvary . But the music isn’t the only part of the performance, as it will be accompanied by a visual projection on our big screen, making this a true multimedia experience. Ian said of ‘A Celt in Jerusalem’ that “The music is heaven sent, and goes way beyond any ability I have. St Paul's is the most fantastic venue".

The plan is to include something for the whole family, including the children. The concert will be held at St Paul’s, Crawley Ridge, Camberley, Surrey GU15 2AD on Saturday 17 December at 7.30pm. The spectacular lasts 1 hour 40 minutes with a 20 minute interval to enjoy refreshments. Sounds like an ideal break for families with children who may need to leave for bedtime.

Ian isn’t just a conductor though, he’s also on the staff at St Paul’s! As Senior Administrator, he keeps things running like a well oiled machine. That’s what you’d expect though from a past Director of Music to the Band of HM Coldstream Guards.  Since leaving the army, Ian continued his musical career conducting top names such as Grimethorpe, Brighouse & Rastrick, Desford Colliery, Scottish Co-op and Thoresby Colliery bands, leading them in contests and concerts. I think after that warm up, he qualifies to lead Sandhurst Band at St Paul’s Christmas spectacular!

Tickets for the concert are free, and are available from St Paul’s by contacting Ian McElligott on 01276 700210. There’s a retiring collection for charity.

To find out more about St Paul’s Christmas events, please visit stpaulscamberley.org.uk or contact the office on 01276 700210. 

To hear the full interview with Ian, click on the play button  below.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Special Christmas Message from Rev Mark

Search results for christmas ‘Christmas is cancelled this year because I cannot afford it’ said the lady on the TV. Was she right?

The context was that of one of the many programmes about the economic woes of our time.  I guess she was trying to say something about the difficulties of paying for all the presents, food, decorations and drink which accompany a 21st century British Christmas.

Her words were actually saying something else, something that is not right, and goes to the very heart of what Christmas is about. You see the gift of Christ(mas) cannot be bought.  Like any other gift it can only be received, perhaps with gratitude.  Maybe even happiness and joy.

You can afford Christmas, because it is free.  And you might want to say ‘thank you’ to God and celebrate His gift by joining in the celebrations at a church near you.  You are welcome whoever you are.

Rev Mark Chester is vicar of St Paul’s in Camberley. More information  on St Paul’s at stpaulscamberley.org.uk

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Camberley Carol Service for the Bereaved 2012

Christmas can be a sad time if you’ve been bereaved this year. The first Christmas without your loved one can feel very empty, as people rush around buying presents and families prepare to gather together. Local churches in Camberley are holding a special carol service for people to remember those who they have loved and lost. This is an opportunity to come together with others who are feeling the same as you, and to support one another. The service will be held  at St Michael’s. Memories, reflections and carols are devised to help you get through this difficult time.

St Michael's CamberleyChurches together in Camberley recognise that Christmas can be a lonely and upsetting experience for people who have lost loved ones. Every year around 100 people attend this special service, which provides spiritual support and comfort from being with others in a supportive atmosphere. The service is hosted at St Michael’s Church, London Road, Camberley GU15 3JP on Sunday 9th December at 3pm.  A very warm and understanding welcome awaits, so don’t feel alone, please come along, and take part in this special service this Christmas time.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Nativity – The Movie : Screening at St Paul’s Camberley

Did you get your tree up this weekend? Started writing Christmas cards? Feeling Christmassy? Well this could get you feeling festive. Yes it’s time to get the popcorn out and head on over to St Paul’s as they show the BBC TV Nativity on their big screen.

NativityFilm
The film takes a fresh contemporary look at the birth of Jesus. This new adaptation by Tony Jordan of EastEnders, Hustle and Life on Mars fame,  is beautifully filmed in what the The Telegraph said was the “BBC's gentle, compassionate take on the Nativity”.

The story starts in Nazareth, where a carpenter, Joseph, courts teenager Mary. A shepherd, Thomas, struggles under heavy taxation. Magi gather to discuss a great event foretold in the stars. All is brought together when Mary is visited by an angel and told she will give birth to the Son of God.

St Paul’s in Camberley is screening the 2010 BBC TV series (now released as a 2 hour film) on Saturday 10th December at 4.00pm on their extra large screen. No tickets are required for this free event, just turn up and grab a goody bag. Children are welcome. They’re serving refreshments after the film too.


Organiser, John Barker said “This is an opportunity to see a good film showing the first ever Christmas, to meet new people at St Paul’s and to invite friends and neighbours to a film that could be helpful to them spiritually.”


To find out more about other events at St Paul’s this Advent, please visit stpaulscamberley.org.uk or contact the office on 01276 700210 or media@stpaulscamberley.org.uk

However you dress it up, Christmas starts with Christ

The Christmas Experience - The Christmas story in real time - Sign Up

However you dress it up, Christmas starts with Christ. Isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas?

This Christmas, I’d like to invite you to follow the dramatic story of Jesus' birth, live online (well it would have been back in the day, if they had social media)  through a series of free messages via text, email, twitter or facebook to your mobile phone or computer.

Can you imagine Joseph sending out a tweet on the birth of Jesus, and Mary posting a photo on facebook!

The Christmas story unfolds on Sunday 18th December, reaching a climax on Christmas day and then leads you on in a journey of reflection over the following week. This amazing story will unfold as it is sent in a series of short messages to your phone, smart-phone or computer.

So, please join us as the story of Jesus' birth is alive again this Christmas.

 

 

Here is how you can take part.

Visit www.thechristmasexp.com/stpaulscamb to register for messages either by email, text, facebook or twitter.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

It’s Advent – But What is it?

 Advent means 'arrived' or 'coming'.    

    
In Advent we remember the first coming of Christ as a baby.  We are reminded of the way his birth was told about many years before by a wide variety of people, by lighting a different candle each Sunday.

Advent Candle
We also remember those from far away who were warned of Christ's arrival by a star that they followed - and we have a special star in church which is lit up all through Advent until Epiphany which is the traditional time of thinking about the wise men.


But we remember the first coming in order to make us more eager to anticipate Christ's second coming as Lord.
Christ has 'arrived' and he is also 'coming'.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Christmas Message from Camberley Street Angels

StreetAngelsLogo As we enter the Christmas season, and the parties begin, it’s a busy time for Street Angels in Camberley. With increased numbers of people entering into the festive spirit, the team has to be on their toes, watching out for dangers and de-escalating threatening situations. Street Angels are now a familiar sight at the weekends, out on Friday and Saturday nights, wearing their distinctive jackets.

 

I spoke with Steve, the Coordinator of Street Angels in Camberley, who had this special Christmas message.

Camberey Street SceneSteve Isherwood, Coordinator of Camberley Street Angels

“Camberley Street Angels would like to wish their supporters, friends, families and all those they meet in the Town Centre on Fridays and Saturdays a Joyous Christmas and Happy New Year.  Having been around for two years now, we feel a part of the community of people working or enjoying a night out in Camberley at the weekends and have made many friends.  May God richly bless you this Christmas time.”

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas at St Paul’s Camberley : What’s On

St Paul's Camberley Angel

Welcome to Christmas at St Paul’s in Camberley!

However you dress it up, Christmas Starts with Christ, and we’ve got a series of events lined up to help you really feel Christmassy.

Throughout this month I’ll be exploring what’s on at St Paul’s in more detail, giving you more information on the services and events, and what to expect. Let’s start with this handy guide to what’s on at St Paul’s this Christmas.

Saturday 10 December

4pm - 6pm  Spiritual Cinema "The Nativity"  (originally screened by the BBC in 2010) on our big screen

Saturday 17 December

7.30pm – 9.45pm Christmas Spectacular Family Concert by Sandhurst Silver BandSandhurst Band Christmas Brass

Sunday 18 December

6.00pm Carols by Candlelight

Thursday 22 December

3pm – 5pm Children’s Snow Ball (5-11 year olds)


Christmas Eve

3.00pm  Christingles (great for children)
5.00pm  Christingles (great for children)Christingles

11.00pm Midnight Holy Communion

 
Christmas Day

8.00am    Holy Communion
9.30am    Family Celebration  (great for children)
11.15am  Family Celebration  (great for children)

Christmas Day at St Paul's Camberley

For more information, see our website, stpaulscamberley.org.uk or contact us on 01276 700210

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Healing is Amazing

Come rain or shine, every Saturday for the past year, a group of people from local churches known as Healing on the Streets, have been out praying for people. This week it turned parky on Park Street in Camberley, as the group setup alongside the Farmers' Market,  and braved the chill in the air to pray for a whole range of issues.

Healing on the Streets

Healing on the Streets launched one year ago, and whatever your thoughts are about prayers and healing, something has been happening. Maybe it requires a real leap of faith to believe that someone can restore a physical or emotional issue, just by sitting down and praying with you. But then what is there to loose? It costs nothing, you don’t sign anything, and nobody will talk to you about the bible or church unless you want to. However wacky you might think Healing on the Streets are, you can find local groups in towns and cities up and down the country, all with similar successes to report. They are a national phenomenon, quietly getting on with the business of helping people in the community. If they can bring healing for all the things listed on their feedback page, then I reckon they are worth a shot.

Some weeks seemingly not a lot happens. Then other weeks, something quite special happens. Last Saturday was one of those special days. Healing on the Streets were thrilled to hear from someone they last saw seven months ago, who reported on the progress of a back complaint. In April the individual had been unable to bend to pull socks on, and was suffering from longstanding disc pain , despite several operations. The initial healing was very dramatic and after prayer they were able to completely bend over and touch their toes. 

Seasonal colds and flu, migraines, depression and  emotional healing are just some of the issues the group are regularly asked to pray for, as they stand near their healing flag between 1.30pm – 3.30pm in Park Street. They often have groups of young people congregating on the nearby benches who pop over for prayer for a range of things, including relationship issues. Feelings such as a positive warmth, and a sense of peace, are commonplace when being prayed for by the Healing team, made up of volunteers from local churches.

So next Saturday when you’re in Camberley, I challenge you to try them out, and see if they can help you. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Hounslow in Camberley – Our New Children’s Worker

Sarah Hounslow, St Paul's Camberley Children's WorkerSarah Hounslow and her family

Sarah Hounslow, from, well, near Hounslow, is the new Children’s Outreach Worker at St Paul’s. She and her young family have now moved to Camberley, and she has been busy planning special events like Who Let The Dads Out? and the Snow Ball for children in the area.

Sarah developed her career in children’s work at East to West, a Christian youth work charity based in Surrey and Berkshire, before starting out in her ministry. She hasn’t moved far. Sarah grew up and went to school in Sunbury, and has recently moved into Camberley to perform her now role.  From our chat, it was clear that children’s work is more than a job to Sarah,  it’s a real vocation. Sarah is married with 2 boys, Will and Alex, and husband Jason who works in London. So how does she fit the role around her busy family? Sarah said: "Because I love working with children so much, and enjoy children so much, the two fit together quite well".

Sarah Hounslow makes cakesAs Children's Outreach Worker, she has spent most of her time in schools, giving assemblies and building relationships with the community. She also plans to start an after-school club.  Her first assembly was on the theme of Acceptance. Delivering a life message in an innovative and meaningful way, she baked and decorated cup cakes, placing sprouts in the prettier cakes, to show that we shouldn’t judge be appearances, and that we should accept everyone for who they are. Sounds like a life lesson a lot of adults could learn from.

Sarah doesn’t stop with her work in schools. She’s also hit the ground running, with three outreach events for children since she started in September. The Glow Party is an alternative to Halloween, which this year delivered the message that God is bigger than anything we're scared of. Who let the Dads Out on Sat 25 November creates a special space for dad’s to spend time playing with their children, in a relaxed cafe style play area. The Snow Ball on 22 December is a winter wonderland experience. The look without all the father Christmas stuff, the Snow Ball is a party for 5-11 year olds to celebrate Jesus birthday – Christmas.

Christianity traditionally has the reputation of being boring, but Sarah’s role seems far from that.  Sarah said "Not at all when you're involved in children's work!". She's right – I’ve visited Freezone, a youth club run by St Paul’s for young people, and the energy and activity is immense. I guess Sarah can take the pace though. Anyone that can jump over the edge of a viaduct and free-fall until the rope catches you, and swings you  through the arch, has to have what it takes to work with young people. Sarah said "It was the scariest and most exhilarating thing I've ever done". That was until she came to St Paul’s!

Sarah takes her inspiration from 87 year old Conny, who is still running a children's group for 7-11's. Sarah said “She's a real inspiration, like my surrogate nan. She lived in south Africa and has many stories about God protecting her, and I believe God has done the same for me”.  Of course life isn’t plain sailing, and when the going gets tough, Sarah has a way to cope. She says "my strategy has been I can't do this without you God. I've stopped in my path and prayed and said I'm giving this to you, because I know that I can't do it unless you're in it". A perfect day for Sarah is swimming with Will and Alex in the morning, and afternoon tea with friends, chilling, chatting and catching up. 

You can contact Sarah Hounslow on 07789 995274 or email childrensworker@stpaulscamb.co.uk

Hear the full interview with Sarah by clicking on the button below.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Who Let The Dad’s Out?

Who let the dads out?Who let the dads out”, woof, woof…Remember that song from the movie Rugrats in Paris?

Well OK, it’s dogs not dads, but you get the idea!

St Paul’s are hosting a morning of fun and food for dads, and children aged 4-11, in a free event their calling “Who let the Dads out?”.

Dads chill-out in a relaxed cafe style play area. Music, weekend newspapers and unlimited bacon (and vegetarian) butties are on offer, whilst we sip  tea and coffee. I love the sound of this. They tell me we dads can also have the opportunity to join in with the children, playing games, if we don’t overdo it on the bacon butties.

Bacon Buttie Sarah Hounslow, Children’s Worker at St Paul’s, Camberley, is responsible for the event. She told me “This breakfast is a chance to give mum a break, to pamper herself, or just do some Christmas shopping, whilst dads get time to chill and spend time with their children.”

I know one mum that has decided to take advantage of this offer, which means I know exactly where I will be at 9.30am until 11.30am on Saturday 26 November. St Paul's, Crawley Ridge, Camberley, Surrey GU15 2AD. Sarah said it’s OK if I can’t make it on time. I can pop in anytime. Not sure if that offer extends to you, but worth a try.

I’m looking forward to sitting back, relaxing and enjoying free unlimited tea, coffee and bacon butties on St Paul’s! Now where are my children? Apparently I need them to get in.

For more information

Contact Sarah Hounslow on 07789 995274 or email childrensworker@stpaulscamb.co.uk

Friday, 18 November 2011

FreeZone – Entering The Zone!

FreeZone

Lucy with some of the FreeZoners

As I entered the FreeZone, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In a previous post, St Paul’s Youth Director Sarah Percival told me “Year 6-8 meet at FreeZone in St Paul’s on Thursday between 7-8.30pm for manic fun”. She wasn’t wrong about the manic!  I must be at St Paul’s then.

FreeZone is a lively youth group in Camberley, which seems to be all about having fun, making friends, eating sweets and learning along the way about life. Oh, and it’s free too (but I don’t think that’s why it got the name). Sarah and a team of volunteers plan and run a range of activities including sports, games and crafts for the hour and a half of extreme excitement. Table football, Nintendo Wii, Sony playstation, comfy sofas, nail painting, games in the hall, football and competitions are some of the activities on offer. Most of St Paul’s centre is dedicated to FreeZone for the evening, including the hall to chill out and run around in.

The boys liked playing with the Playstation, Wii and playing pool, and thought FreeZone was “Wicked!”.

I met up with some of the 11 year old girls, to find out more, whilst they were chilling on the comfy sofa. I quickly learned FreeZone is all about Talk, Tuck and Chill. The talk is on a different topic each week, around God. “Even if you’re not a Christian, it’s nice to talk about things and meet and chat with new people. It’s worth coming because of all the fun we have.” said the girls.

St Paul's FreeZone LogoLucy is one of the team members who has helped to run FreeZone the last year, and is a former FreeZoner herself. She told me the activities have moved on from when she was in the ‘zone’. Back then knitting was one of the leading edge activities. The girls didn’t seem too keen on knitting. These days, sweets seem to be a very popular choice, with a tuck shop open on the night. Lucy gives up her Thursday evenings to run the group because, as she says: “it’s really fun, and I like helping out. Its a great life experience.”

FreeZone provides an opportunity for young people to build camaraderie, and seek advice and guidance, in a fun, safe environment. “It’s good times” say the girls. Looked like good times to me too, so let the good times roll. Except that perhaps next time, I’ll take some ear defenders!

To find out more about FreeZone at St Paul’s, come along, or contact Sarah Percival on 07921 816631 or sarah.percival@stpaulscamb.co.uk via email.

Hear all about FreeZone from the FreeZoners….

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Remembrance Sunday – Our Tribute

We shall remember them

“We shall remember them”

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Camberley Leaders on Retreat

CamberleyChurchLeadersOnRetreat

Last week, Rev Mark Chester, together with other church leaders in Camberley, spent 24 hours together focusing on God’s plan for the area.

The ten Churches Together in Camberley (CTC) leaders stayed at St Katherine’s Retreat Centre, Parmoor, in prayer and discussion on how best to bring Christ’s mission to our town.

Mark said “Jesus encourages each of his followers to do all that they can to work in harmony and unity for the building up of the Kingdom of God. The CTC is a visible sign of this. To anyone who cares to look, Christians not only get on in Camberley but they are working together to build better relationships through the work of their Partnership Development Officer (Christine Glover), Street Angels and other tangible and measurable projects. May I ask that we all continue to pray for this ecumenical initiative in our midst.”

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Online Remembrance Sunday Tribute

Poppy - St Paul's Online Tribute
St Paul’s will be holding a service of remembrance on Sunday 13 Nov starting at 10.45am.

This year, we are also paying a special online tribute to members of our brave armed forces, who gave their lives in battle.

At 11am on Remembrance Sunday, we will release a podcast on our Audioboo network. This will include thoughts from Major General Tim Cross OBE,  Major General Roddy Porter MBE, Colonel Ivar Hellberg OBE and ‘Padre’ Mark Chester.

Major General Tim Cross is a local lay minister here at St Paul's. He has been engaged in various conflicts, in Northern Ireland, the Gulf War, Kosovo and Iraq. His last operation tour was as the senior British officer working with the senior American HQ in Baghdad in 2003.

Major General Roddy Porter  is also a member of St Paul's. Colonel of the Royal Welsh, he was until recently Chief of Staff (Joint Warfare Development) at the UK Joint HQ. He has served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq during his 30 year career in the army.

Colonel Ivar Hellberg is a member of St Paul's. In his 37 year service career he saw active service in Borneo and the Falklands War. It was in the Falklands he received a citation whilst serving as a Royal Marine commander. Ivar is no stranger to the casualties of conflict.

Rev Mark Chester is the vicar of St Paul's. He has recently completed a tour of Afghanistan as a unit padre in Helmand Province. Prior to becoming a vicar, he also served in the regular army.
Facebook, Twitter and AudioBoo Following the podcast release, St Paul’s shall fall silent on social networks, as a mark of respect.
This is intended as a bold gesture for our brave hero's. We wanted to show our heartfelt support to all our armed forces who gave everything, so that we might have freedom. They are particularly in our mind at this time, as our own vicar, Rev Mark Chester, has just returned from Afghanistan, serving as a unit padre.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Rambo in a Dog Collar - NOT!

Rambo in a dog collar, Mark Chester is not!

Mark, vicar at St Paul’s Camberley, made this very clear as he spoke of his recent mobilisation to Afghanistan at a men’s breakfast at Pine Ridge last Saturday 29th October.

Seventy men, including counsellor Paul Deach from Surrey Heath’s Resident’s network, listened as Mark spoke of his experiences as a padre in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Mark was one of ten padres looking after approximately 700 soldiers for six months. This meant he got firsthand experience of the British forces across Helmand Province. As well as padre he acted as a team medic, having trained with Amputees in Action. At the peak of activity, Mark dealt with 12 casualties in 24 hours!

During the talk he recounted episodes from his diary which brought to life the poignant and sometimes disturbing truths of what he and the soldiers experienced out there. On a more light hearted note when asked what his role included as a padre he answered, give out sweets! A kindly gesture greatly appreciated by the soldiers who felt relaxed enough to open up and chat informally. “A padre can be told what to do,” explained Mark, “But cannot tell anyone else what to do, which means anyone can talk to you in total confidence.” Soldiers can air their issues and let off steam in a way which does not result in a disciplinary. Padres provide support to commanders too. Being in command is tough and lonely so being able to speak frankly to a padre is a relief. Primarily padres are there to provide spiritual support. Mark says, “You’re out there to represent God who is intimately and totally interested in everything you are doing.”

Reaching a maximum of 50 degrees, heat is a major issue in Afghanistan. Mark routinely went on patrol with his unit carrying a comparatively light pack of 40KG and facing the thick constant billows of dust. It was essential to keep up liquid intake or you would soon become dangerously dehydrated.

To read more about Mark’s experiences in Afghanistan, see the previous blog posts.

To find out more about St Paul’s, please visit stpaulscamberley.org.uk or contact the office on 01276 700210.

Friday, 4 November 2011

GLOWing Time

Glow Party at St Paul's Camberley Thank you…

… to everyone who helped with our GLOW party. Over forty children attended, and there has been a lot of great feed back.

One  Mum said that her children haven't stopped talking about it. Another said “it went at a lovely pace with great games”.

Look out for our next children’s event on 26 Nov, “Who Let The Dad’s Out!”. Dad’s, give the lady of the house have a few hours off and pop over to St Paul’s at 9.30 – 11.30am with your children. Sit back, relax and enjoy unlimited bacon butties on us!

Thank you again,

Sarah Hounslow

St Paul’s Children’s Worker

childrensworker@stpaulscamb.co.uk

Monday, 31 October 2011

St Paul’s Action Day For Camberley Besom

Helpers from St Paul's help Besom with Harvest Gifts

Members of St Paul’s Volunteer for Besom

A group of volunteers from St Paul’s spent a day helping out the Besom charity processing the harvest gifts kindly donated by local schools and churches in Camberley.

The Besom are a local charity who specialise in providing food packs and other items to those in need, in Camberley and the surrounding area. On 22nd October the group of eight helped sort out the harvest gifts, separating out tins into categories, and sifting out those passed their sell-by dates, ready to make food parcels for those in need in the local area. The quantity of gifts ensured this was a worthy challenge for the team.

One of the volunteers, Ted Crew says: “On this occasion 'the fields were all white and the reapers were many' and the work of Besom can proceed reaching out to those in need. We also enjoyed the work”.

For more information on Camberley Besom see the previous post The Besom In Camberley – Food by Faith.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Walking Around Chawton and the South Downs

Fine Weather Walkers

Word and Pictures: Ted Crew

On Saturday 15 October, a group of Fine Weather Walkers set off from St Paul’s at 08:30am under the leadership of Graham ‘I shall say this only several times ’ Le Clercq for a six mile walk he had previously reconnoitred from Chawton near Alton. The village was home of the famous English novelist Jane Austen for the last eight years of her life, and lies within the South Downs National Park.

Parking near Jane Austin’s House we booted and spurred before departing. With a thermometer reading of three degrees and, resisting the temptation to break into a song, we crossed a nearby field seeing our first frost of the autumn. A beautiful blue sky and rapidly rising temperature. Soon it became clear that the group needed to be renamed the Smug Fabulous Weather Walkers.

Jane Austen's HouseJane Austen’s House

If the walk were to have a name it should be ‘the beginners’ country walk with an introduction to animals. On this gently undulating walk, we encountered sheep, alpacas, two bulls, pigs, cows, chickens, thoroughbred horses and a rather large working horse who wanted to join the walk. It was during this introduction to animals that Sigrun threw doubt on her rural heritage by claiming that a sheep was a pig. Graham demonstrated that he was well acquainted with the country with a rather fine impersonation of a chicken – actions an’ all! Unfortunately, the working horse either took a dislike to Ted or was trying to show unwanted affection by biting into Ted’s fleece.

Our mid-morning break was enjoyed in a field near the beautiful village of Upper Farringdon. In baking sunshine we unzipped our bananas (for energy) oat bars (for sustenance but low carbohydrate) and coffee (because that’s what you do in the middle of the morning). After a 15 minute break we were off again through the village and on our way back to Chawton.


The walk was taken at a leisurely pace, we were surrounded by God’s wonderful country gifts. We returned to our cars refreshed by the experience rather than tired. You should join us one day and bring a friend. The walks are always very well organised.

The St Paul’s walking group is open for all to join in the local area. You don’t have to be a member of St Paul’s. For more information on the walking group, and other walks done, take a look at some of their blog posts here.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween - Harmless or Horrid?

notrick Surrey Police 'no trick or treat' window card

Halloween is a harmless bit of fun for children to go out and gather sweets from the local neighbourhood. Or is it?

Traditionally Halloween, or All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), the night before All Hallows Day, is a  time when children dress up in garish costumes in order to ward off evil spirits. Is that harmless? Not to the elderly and single women. It can be very intimidating opening to door to a bunch of masked strangers demanding treats.

Camberley People reported in their article Promoting Safety Awareness Ahead of Halloween and Bonfire Night that Surrey Heath Neighbourhood Inspector James Norbury says: "While Halloween and Bonfire night can be an enjoyable time for many, there are lots of considerations for people to think about. We are asking the community to stay safe while having fun as well as respect other people, including those who are vulnerable or don't want to be disturbed."

But what about the children?

Halloween portrays evil personalities in a positive or innocuous way. Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, or mythical monsters. Is evil something we really want to encourage our children to celebrate? Our own GLOW party aims to change all that. This free party for 4-11 year olds, is a positive alternative to Halloween. Light without the fright. So Halloween needn't be scary. It could be fun and truly harmless, without intimidation. A celebration of good.

Don't be hollow this Halloween, why not make a stand?

Change a tradition?

Start a trend this October 31, and celebrate light, not darkness.

If your children really insist in trick or treating, why not encourage them to actually offer treats this year, and do a spot of giving!

Friday, 21 October 2011

GLOW-ing Alternative Halloween Party - Light without the Fright!

2008_1031Glow0065 Halloween is a time commonly associated with celebrating evil, but St Paul’s will be having a lot more fun celebrating good, as we throw a free party for younger children in Camberley.

The GLOW party is an annual themed event with 2 hours of lively entertainment  for children aged 4-11, including messy games and cool crafts. This year the theme is  'God is Bigger'. The event takes place on Saturday 29th October between 4-6pm at St Paul’s Centre, Crawley Ridge, Camberley GU15 2AD.

Jill Davis, Children’s Coordinator at St Paul’s says: “We hold GLOW because it is important to us to offer an alternative fun event that our local children can attend during the Halloween period.  We do games, make things, and have lots of fun in a safe, positive way.  Come dressed as your favourite superhero.”

No tickets are required, just turn up and register on the evening. Parents are welcome to stay, or leave their children with the team, and take time out to relax.

For more information on GLOW, contact Sarah Hounslow on 07789 995274 or email ChildrensWorker@StPaulsCamb.co.uk

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Mayor and Mayoress of Surrey Heath on the UN Day to Eradicate Poverty 2011

 

Brookwood Cemetery Glade

The Glades, Brookwood Cemetery

The Mayor and Mayoress of Surrey Heath joined the Surrey Heath Coalition Against Poverty at Brookwood Cemetery on Saturday 15 October, in the run up to the United Nations international day to end poverty (which occurs annually on 17 October).

We were there to pay our respects to the Paupers of London in the 1850’s. This is about the only time of the year when the pauper’s graves get visited and remembered, so a special time. In the mid-nineteenth century the volume of London's dead was causing public concern. So in 1850 the idea of a great metropolitan cemetery, situated in the suburbs and large enough to contain all of London's dead, was promoted. The outcome was Brookwood Cemetery, the largest burial ground in the world when it was opened in 1854 by the London Necropolis & Mausoleum Company.

I interviewed Mayor Tim Dodds, on his thoughts about the UN Day to End Poverty, and poverty locally in the borough.

 

On the United Nations Day to Eradicate Poverty…

The Mayor says: “The United Nations Day to End Poverty is a laudable thing and just focuses peoples minds on those that have little or nothing”.

On poverty in Surrey Heath ….

Surrey Heath has pockets of poverty. The Old Dean, St Michael’s and Watchetts have the highest numbers of 0-19 year olds in poverty in the county.

On local poverty the Mayor says: “Poverty exists everywhere. Those with money will be in poverty quite quickly if they loose their job they are unable to afford the lifestyle that they currently have. Recently I was at Avenue Sucy at a church led event, celebrating the people who live there, and trying to say to them that they are not forgotten. People understand some of the difficulties that some of them live with. Their issues are recognised by a number of organisations in the borough.

Surrey Heath does have pockets of poverty which we need to recognise, and I think as a borough, we do pretty well. It’s a very volunteering conscious borough, and lots of organisations do fantastic work, more so than people recognise. Whilst poverty exists in part of the borough, there is recognition that it exists, and there is a willingness to do something about it”.

On the role of voluntary organisations in eradicating poverty…

Mayor Tim Dodds says: “I don’t have any vision for any greater role for the charities and organisations in the borough than we currently have. There are a huge number of them, supported by dedicated volunteers. I’m sure most voluntary organisations can’t do any more. I spoke to somebody last night who’s a governor of a school, a trustee of the Frimley Fuel Allotments and a number of other things. These people who want to volunteer and contribute make a difference in a big way, because they use most of their time to do voluntary work. We just need more volunteers, I think that’s the solution”.

Mayor Tim Dodds ponders over a Pauper's Grave

Mayor Tim Dodds pays his respects at the Pauper's Graves, Brookwood Cemetery

Friday, 14 October 2011

This Weekend – What is the Poverty Line?

Saturday Unite Together for World Poverty, Local Poverty, All Poverty

October 17 is the UN Day to End Poverty worldwide. This weekend in Surrey Heath, the Surrey Heath Coalition Against Poverty (SHCAP) are commemorating on Saturday 15 October with two events that people can take part in. A serious look at what happened to the deceased of London in 1850, followed by a fun workshop for all the family.

The day, which is commemorated globally, seeks to promote increased awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and serves to remind all people that sustained and concerted effort is vital to achieve the millennium development goal (MDG) of halving the number of people living in poverty by 2015.

Poverty doesn’t just exist in the third world, it also exists locally. Whilst poverty is low in Surrey Heath compared to the regional benchmark, The Surrey Heath Families in Poverty Needs Assessment says: “Surrey’s appearance as a wealthy county can be deceptive”. It goes on to state that there are 1,605 children and young people living in poverty in the borough. The Old Dean, St Michael’s and Watchetts have the highest numbers of 0-19 year olds in poverty.

This week, the national news reported that “UK seeing a big rise in poverty, says IFS”.  What does this mean for us as individuals?

Well poverty is defined as an income which falls below 60% of the median income. The IFS report advises the real median household incomes have fallen significantly between 2009 and 2011. So in real figures, here is the scoop….

What is the Poverty Line IN THE UK?

  • Single adult, no children: £165 per week
  • Couple, no children: £248 per week
  • Lone parent, 1 child: £215 per week
  • Lone parent, 2 children: £264 per week
  • Lone parent, 3 children: £314 per week
  • Couple, 1 child: £297 per week
  • Couple, 2 children: £347 per week
  • Couple, 3 children: £396 per week

As SHCAP start their tour of the 1850  London Paupers Graves in Brookwood, we shall also be thinking about the  'Pauper funerals' in Wales right now in 2011, due to the rise in  burial costs.

Saturday is also about fun and creativity. ATD Fourth World, based at Frimhurst Family Centre, are putting on a creative workshop for the whole family. Refreshments are provided, and a big balloon release will end a day in Surrey Heath, that we spent thinking about those less fortunate than ourselves.

On Twitter, we shall be using the hashtag #SHCAP throughout to day to bring live updates on events, and more information about poverty and what is being done to help locally. More information on the Surrey Heath Coalition Against Poverty (SHCAP) at http://surreyheathcoalitionagainstpoverty.org.uk/

Friday, 7 October 2011

Full English – Rev Mark Chester on Afghanistan

Breakfast with Rev Mark Chester at Pine Ridge
“Breakfast with Rev Mark Chester at Pine Ridge”

"Right men, Afghanistan, Pine Ridge, 29th Oct. Got it?"

Rev Mark Chester has recently returned from an operational tour in Afghanistan with the Commando Gunners and Royal Armoured Corps Units.  He will be speaking about life as a unit Padre in Helmand over breakfast at Pine Ridge.

The recent Channel 4 documentary Fighting on the Frontline which Mark took part in, will give you some idea of what he encountered, as well as the blog posts as we followed him during his tour. Hear more about this over a full English breakfast on Saturday 29th October at 8.15am at the Pine Ridge Golf Club, Old Bisley Road, Frimley, Camberley, Surrey GU16 9NX.
Padre Mark prepares to patrol with British and Afghan soldiersIn this age in which we live where war touches so many lives of soldiers and families right here in Surrey and Hampshire, its a very relevant topic. Mark says: “I spent three months as Padre to combat soldiers in Afghanistan earlier this year. Every experience in life is an opportunity to learn and I want to talk about what I have learnt through my experience on operations in the hope that it may be of interest or value to others”.

Tickets for this men's breakfast are £10 (to cover the breakfast), and are available from Azan Laslett on 01276 469227 or via azanluke@o2.co.uk . The event is limited to 230 tickets.


Since Mark has returned home, he has appeared on Eagle Radio, Radio Frimley Park, and a Channel 4 documentary Fighting on the Frontline. You can hear Mark this Sunday 9 October on BBC Radio Surrey & Sussex at 7.30am.

To find out more about St Paul’s, please visit http://stpaulscamberley.org.uk or contact the office on 01276 700210.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Young People at St Paul’s – It’s Not All Sweets and Coffee Shops!

StPaulsCamberleyYouthJumping Youth Director, Sarah Percival, has been at St Paul’s for over a year now. A good opportunity then to interview her, and get an update on what activities are on offer for young people.

Sarah on Sarah

Sarah is full time staff, backed by a tremendous team of volunteers. She said her first year as Youth Director had been pretty intense, hitting the ground running, but had been fun. Personally, she has been experiencing life at Sandhurst RMA and had done a coastal photography course.

What’s Been Happening?

Sarah has been meeting at coffee shops with a group of year 7-8 girls, to chat about the bible. I asked her how do you chat about the bible in a coffee shop? She says: “You just sit down, have a coffee, have a chat about the bible, and pray. It’s great, I’m all for coffee shops”.

Rock (for 13-18 year olds) has met at Starbucks and St Paul’s, alternate weeks. So one week it’s chilled out coffee, and the next it could be table tennis. We call it “Rock@Bucks”.

Evening Cell is for young people who have a Christian faith, and want to explore it further. They have started to take more of a lead planning and running and the group themselves, with discussions and worship.

Youth Alpha at Freezone was an experiment this year, integrating the Youth Alpha format into Freezone. Talks, a chilled out discussion zone and free puddings were the essential ingredients to make this a success. Freezone is a Thursday evening outreach group for year 6-8 young people. Youth Alpha is an introduction to Christianity, which includes a talk, food and discussion.

StPaulsCamberleyYouthBowling

What groups are available for young people at St Paul’s?

You don’t have to be a Christian to take part in the young peoples groups. Sarah says: “A great place to come if you aren’t yet a Christian is Freezone or Rock. They are just really chilled, and not intimidating. Come along and get to know people, and if you enjoy that, come along to Cell.”

  • Freezone (year 6-8) meet at St Paul’s on Thursday 7-8.30pm for manic fun. There is a bible talk, then sports, games, activities or crafts, and lots of fun.
  • Rock (13-18 year olds) is on Friday evening, in town or at St Paul’s. A time to hang out and chill, have fun and chat about God and the bible. Nice place to go and meet new friends in the evening.
  • Youth Alpha (Secondary school age) at St Paul’s on Wednesdays from 6-8pm is a great place to have a meal together. There will be a short talk about the basics of the Christian faith, then a chance to have your say.

At church on Sundays, there are:-

  • Morning Cell (year 7-9) at St Paul’s at 11.15am for bible study, worship, young peoples talk and jellybeans!
  • Evening Cell (year 10+) 6-7.30pm hang out in the kitchen at St Paul’s with tea and coffee, then watch a DVD, pray, worship and check out the bible.

CamberleyYouthSt Paul’s work closely with Camberley Youth for Christ (CYFC), along with many churches in Camberley. CYFC run self-esteem programmes, anger management, listening programmes and activity clubs.

 

What Would Sarah Change at St Paul’s?

A cappuccino machine would round things off nicely she said. I guess that should be no surprise, given the amount of times she mentioned coffee in our interview. But it’s not all coffee and sweets at St Paul’s. It’s a great place to explore more about what life is all about, alongside chilling with friends.

Vision?

Sarah says the vision for young people for the next year is: “for young people to be met by someone at St Paul’s, to hear to gospel, a nd to know Jesus loves them, and to learn how to live in a way that reflects that, and to go out and change the world because of it.”

For more information on youth work at St Paul’s, Sarah may be contacted at sarah.percival@stpaulscamb.co.uk or telephone 01276 700210.

To hear more, listen to the full interview…

Friday, 23 September 2011

Camberley on the Frontline of Debt

Frontline in Reading explain how the charity works

Frontline, a successful free debt and benefits advice service in Camberley, is finding it tough to engage local organisations, despite a list of happy clients they have helped over the last 18 months. Although the team are trained volunteers, and Frontline is registered with the Office of Fair Trading, sadly they are not receiving any referrals from local agencies. 

Unemployment has risen across the UK (up 80,000 over the quarter to 2.51 million), the largest increase since the three months to August 2009. In Surrey Heath, which covers Camberley, there were 1,282 people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. Despite this, Charles Bruce, from Frontline says: “Most of our clients are coming from leaflets left in churches, personal references and references given by existing clients. Sadly there have not been any clients referred by local agencies”.

In previous posts, we have highlighted who Frontline are, and the valuable work they do for people in need in Surrey Heath. Many of the 18 clients the Camberley branch have advised continue to require ongoing support due to long running legal cases. Now we can report on the real success stories they have had.  One client wrote: “Just a note  to thank you so much for all the support you have given us over the past weeks. We felt very much less alone after we had our first meeting with you, and do now feel that at least every avenue has been explored . I'm sure there will be the odd darker moments. Still, I think we both now feel quite positive about the future, that perhaps it all might work for good, so to speak. I wish we could find the words to express our thanks for someone who has been willing to give such time and effort to help us see the way through. Thank you”. One extreme case of financial distress was a client evicted from rented accommodation, with no job, and sleeping in their car. Since Frontline got involved, the client is receiving the benefits to which they are entitled, back in rented accommodation, and attending job interviews. Another case was a single parent and teenage child,  who had been sleeping on the floor for fifteen months. All their white goods were about to be repossessed. With the help of St Vincent de Paul in Camberley, and the Lions, they now have sufficient furniture, including beds and appliances. Negotiations are in hand with their creditors.

If you find yourself in difficulties, and need advice, you can contact Frontline in Camberley for free advice in any of the following ways:-

07880 711730 (24 hour message line)

 camberley@FrontlineDebtAdvice.org.uk

Camberley Frontline, St Paul’s Church Centre, Crawley Ridge, Camberley GU15 2AD

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Besom In Camberley – Food by Faith

Besom Logo “Run by local Christians, on behalf of local churches, to meet the needs of local people” – Diane Marlow, Camberley Besom.

Surrey Heath is often thought of as an affluent area, but there are pockets of poverty too, as the Surrey Heath Coalition Against Poverty are at pains to point out. A survey, in March 2010 by Confused.com, into credit card debt showed that Camberley, at £2001 per resident, had the highest in the UK. Fortunately there are local charities that can provide help, such as Frontline, and the Besom.

The Besom are a local charity who specialise in providing food packs and other items to those in need, in Camberley and the surrounding area. They work with local churches, who provide a support network of collection points, where various items may be dropped off. Demand has increased over recent months, and the concern is that as we head towards winter, some people are going to have to make a choice between eating, or heating.

St Paul’s, along with a number of other local churches, will be giving its harvest festival offerings to the Besom charity as a gift to help those in need. St Paul’s harvest gifts on Sunday 18 September, will be used to support vulnerable individuals and families in the Camberley community. Reverend Mark Chester says: “We know it’s nice to receive, but it truly is great to give; especially when it’s from the heart”. Everyone is welcome to come and join us on Sunday 18 September at 9.30 am or 11.15 am.  We’ll be gathering items to pass on to those in need to help bring them comfort, a healthier living, and essentials for equipping them at home.  You can help play your part by bringing food (with long expiry dates), toiletries, cleaning products and kitchen items.

I spoke with Diane Marlow, one of the volunteers from Camberley Besom. They are a national organisation, but each branch is unique, run by local Christians, on behalf of local churches, to meet the needs of local people. They help people of all ages and situations. They have created a series of packs, which can quickly be dispatched to those in need. For example food packs, new mum packs and kitchen starter packs. The Besom have a specific ethos when it comes to donated items used to make up the packs. A food item with “value” on the label makes people feel that’s all they are worth. Diane says: “the clients we work with have very low self esteem, very little self confidence and very little money. When they go shopping they have little choice, they have to buy the basic items in order to survive. We want them to see that their value is greater than that. So in a small way, when we take a gift to someone, we want them to feel it’s a small reflection of the way in which God values them”. This ethos means anything donated should be of the very best quality, not from a value or basic range, but of a standard that shows that people are valued.  People on the poverty line have very little choice, so we need to make them feel special.Camberley Besom Leaflet
One example of the help the Besom has provided in Camberley was a young family from Staines with a 6 month old baby. The family were required by social services to move into temporary accommodation in Camberley, as they had a relative in the area. The father lost his job because he didn’t have transport to travel from Camberley to Staines. With the resulting delay in benefits, they found themselves unable to feed themselves or their baby. Besom were able to support them over a number of weeks with food and other essential items until their financial difficulty was resolved.

Another example was a young mum in difficult circumstances, who had given birth earlier than expected and was unprepared. The Besom were contacted with a request for a baby bath. They went out with the bath, a new mum pack and a food pack. Often people need a selection of items, and the Besom try and meet all those needs.

I asked Diane what motivates her as an unpaid volunteer to work for the Besom. Diane says “this is God’s direction for me, it’s what I sensed him wanting me to be doing. Also in my normal work [with young people] I had one girl who was made homeless, and it was a real eye opener, just how difficult it was to find sources of help for her, and how much need there was for people in this area”.


Demand for the service that Besom provide is growing, with an unexpected increase in August. Diane forecasts with the current economic pressures, that it will get tougher as people have to choose if they spend their money on fuel or food.

The packs are their primary focus, but the Besom can also help in other ways. For example, from time to time they can organise a group of volunteers to help with gardening, painting and decorating or cleaning. The Besom take referrals from recognised organisations such as a Doctor or other health professional, local school, social services, or housing associations.

For more information on Camberley Besom, or to get in contact with them, you can email camberleybesom@gmail.com or phone 07543 319921


You can hear the full interview with Diane by clicking on the play button below.

Interview with Diane Marlow from Camberley Bessom who provide food packs to those in need in the local area (mp3)